Photo via Getty Images

A handful of rural counties across Illinois have declared themselves sanctuary counties for gun owners, because America, which leads the world in gun ownership and gun deaths, apparently isn’t a safe enough haven for gun owners.

Effingham County prosecutor Bryan Kibler repurposed the term “sanctuary” with county board member Dave Campbell; it was a deliberate choice to co-opt the language used by cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. In April, Campbell told Newsweek, “If our legislators can pass a sanctuary state bill for immigrants, why can’t we have a sanctuary county for firearms for Effingham County?”

So far, five counties have passed similar resolutions, and Campbell told the Associated Press that, “at least 20 Illinois counties and local officials in Oregon and Washington have asked for copies of Effingham County’s resolution.”

The passage of these resolutions are largely symbolic and won’t actually be able to challenge state or federal law. That said, while the resolution reads as an attempt to troll libs above all else, it also acts as a warning to the Democrat-controlled Illinois legislature. From the AP:

County officials fear their state legislators won’t be able to stop the passage of the gun restrictions because they are outnumbered by lawmakers from in and around Chicago, where the vast majority of the more than 650 homicides last year involved guns.

Kibler [...] said he thinks the resolutions send the same message that cities like Chicago send by refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. He said he won’t speculate about how he’d deal with new gun restrictions that haven’t been signed into law, but that legislators need to understand, “If you pass it we might not pay attention to it.”

Advertisement

If equating the experiences of gun owners in the United States right now with that of undocumented immigrants living under the threat of deportation feels insincere and opportunistic to you, that’s because it is. “We’re just stealing the language that sanctuary cities use,” Kibler told the AP.

And what is all of this this in response to, exactly?

Illinois lawmakers are looking into extraordinarily benign gun restrictions, including age restrictions on certain types of gun purchases, enforcing size limits on gun magazines, and banning bump stocks. This does not match the paranoid imagery of government officials knocking on doors and collecting weapons, popularized by the NRA and other right-wing groups. But we didn’t reach our current political impasse—and crisis levels of gun violence—by acting reasonably, now did we.